How to do well in Maths?
Step 1. Get rid of all those preconceived beliefs about Maths
Preconceived simply means that you have formed a belief without any evidence or truth about it.
Remember these statements?
"I'm not good at Maths", "I don't have a Maths brain.", "I don't have a Maths gene.", I am not Maths inclined." ... and the list goes on and on and on ...
If you have ever used any of these statements, delete them from your vocabulary, from your mind and from your thinking.
There is extensive research and evidence that the majority of people are capable of learning the mathematical concepts and skills taught in school.
This is the same as drawing a tree for example. Everybody can draw or sketch a tree but not everybody is going to become a famous artist. The same thing happens with Maths; everybody can learn the basic mathematical skills and concepts but not everybody is going to become a famous mathematician.
Step 2. Master your basic maths skills
Basic maths skills are the building blocks of the more complex mathematical concepts.
What basic skills are a must to master in order to be able to cope with the higher level skills?
* Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of integers, fractions and decimals
* Order of operations
... now you are ready to move on to the next level.
Step 3. Learn and understand concepts using examples
Have you ever tried to do the exercises without fully understanding the concepts? I thought so.
Those examples are there so you can use the concept involved and actually understand it. Take pen and paper and actually, literally, do the examples. Reading the examples is not enough.
Ask yourself: Why is this so? ... and ensure that you do understand every step.
Let's see how to learn mathematics using a basic example like the one given below.
Solve the linear equation 2x - 3 = 7.
Let's see how many concepts, skills and procedures are involved in this basic example.
First of all, this is where you need to master your basic mathematical skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Knowing these operations it gives you the freedom to concentrate on the procedure required to solve the equation.
The second important concept to understand here is that the two sides of the equation are equal; hence the = sign.
The equation tells us that if we take away 3 units from a quantity, 2x, we are going to end up with 7 units.
So, the question is what is the number from which, when we subtract 3, we end up with 7?
Yes ... I agree ... this is easy ... the number is 10.
This means that 2x = 10.
We can also look at this equation in a different way. If we add 3 to both sides of the equation, then
2x - 3 + 3 = 7 + 3
2x = 10
So, we end up with the same answer.
We are going to use the same thinking to finish solving this question.
Thinking again: What number multiplied by 2 gives us 10. The answer is 5, so x = 5.
We can also divide both sides of the equation by 2.
You might say that this example is too easy. Well, to understand concepts and procedures you have to use easy examples and then you move to more complex examples.
Step 4. Practise, practise, practise
Now that you have the understanding of the concept and you have learnt the procedures, it is time to practise so that this new knowledge and skills become more and more familiar and you retain what you have learnt.
Imagine you are learning to ride a bike. Somebody explains to you how it works, few tips and tricks and then ... what? Yes, you get on the bike and you actually ride it again and again until you get the hang of it. Once your body has memorised what to do, you can ride the bike without paying any attention to what the body does. The same happens with Maths; this is why you have to practise so that the new knowledge and skills become so familiar that the answer jumps at you as soon as you have read the question.
Step 4. Apply the concepts learnt to problem solving.
Once you understand what you are doing and you have practised enough to strengthen your skills, make sure that you solve some applications or problem solving. Put those skills in context.